Sumner Redstone suggests he could oust Viacom board, CEO

Fri May 27, 2016 8:52pm EDT
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By Jessica Toonkel

(Reuters) - Sumner Redstone made clear on Friday that he is considering ousting Viacom's (VIAB.O: Quote) chief executive and the company's board of directors in the fierce power struggle between Redstone's family and company executives over control of the media empire.

A judge set an early June hearing on the possible removal of CEO Philippe Dauman from the trust that will control the media company when Redstone dies or is deemed incapacitated.

In a statement issued through a spokesman, Redstone, who turned 93 on Friday, said he would act in "the best interests of shareholders," when weighing whether or not to oust Dauman and the company's board.

Redstone, who holds 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom (VIAB.O: Quote) and CBS Corp (CBS.N: Quote), last week removed Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams from the seven-person trust that will control the shares after Redstone exits.

In the statement, Redstone said he will apply "the same deliberation and consideration" he used when he removed Dauman and George Abrams as trustees.

Redstone's latest missive comes amid reports that Viacom's board is preparing a lawsuit challenging any attempts to remove its members or the CEO.

Dauman, 62, has filed a legal challenge to stop his removal from the trust, arguing that Redstone was being manipulated by his daughter, Shari. She has called that allegation "absurd" and said her father made his own decisions.

Judge George Phelan scheduled to hear the case on June 7, after Dauman filed a petition to have the trial date expedited.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom, arrives at the premiere of 'The Guilt Trip' in Los Angeles December 11, 2012.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo